Personal Thoughts About Commentaries (12): The Pastoral Epistles

When it comes to the Pastoral Epistles there is a wealth of good choices. The top four in the following list are all excellent high-level works. I would personally go for Knight and Marshall if money were no object (although Mounce and Towner would be just fine). Some of these scholars dance around Paul’s clear statement preventing women from being preachers and teachers of men. I have marked such with a (w’)

1. George W. Knight III – Good at about everything. Heavy on the Greek but usable by most. Conservative. This has been around for a while but I still think it is unsurpassed.

2. William D. Mounce – Very solid exegesis and exposition. Some people don’t like the format, but Mounce makes the most of it. I have always gotten something from this volume.

3. Philip W. Towner – Impressive and accessible despite its size. An expert on the Pastorals. (w).

4. I. Howard Marshall – Helped by Towner (above), this is the most detailed and theologically nuanced commentary of the bunch. Marshall comments on Titus first because he says it tends to get overlooked – a not unwise decision. Infuriatingly rejects Pauline authorship. Expensive. (w).

5. Gordon D. Fee – I always turn to Fee on the Pastorals because of the way he writes and his ability to bring his exegesis to street level. This is one you should own. (w).

6. Andreas J. Kostenberger – The usual pithy style of the author is on display. Kostenberger is both a good distiller of other scholars and a competent thinker in his own right. Solid.

7. Donald Guthrie – A very fine scholar of the end of the last century, Guthrie is slight but always “in” the text. (w).

8. John Stott – Two small volumes by a great expositor. (w).

9. Patrick Fairbairn – Fairbairn is never easy reading, but everything he wrote is valuable in its way. I can’t say I like the textual emendations via Tischendorf, but the work is valuable. Don’t miss the excellent appendices.

10. William Hendriksen – Hendriksen is forgotten by many today, but his work is pious, scholarly, pastoral, and conservative. This is well worth having in the preacher’s library.

Other works that should be mentioned Robert Yarbrough’s volume, which is highly praised. I haven’t seen it. Had I it would probably be in my top ten. L. T. Johnson’s large scholarly treatment on 1 & 2 Timothy in the Anchor Bible is well regarded. Surprisingly, he argues for Pauline authorship. Jerome Quinn & Grant Wacker on the same is, well, odd. It’s good in places and “meh” in others. I bought it cheap, which is how you should buy it. Of course, do not neglect Calvin here (if you can get his sermons on these books you will be impressed at his conversational preaching style). Lenski is conservative and solid. I put Hendriksen just ahead of him. J. N. D. Kelly is brief but good. Continuing with initials J. D. G. Dunn’s contribution in the NIB (Vol. 11) is bound to be good. Dunn is always thought-provoking. Finally, I suppose I should include the volume edited by Kostenberger and Wilder entitled Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles. No, I haven’t read it, but it looks good.

2 thoughts on “Personal Thoughts About Commentaries (12): The Pastoral Epistles”

  1. I thought The Pastoral Epistles for Pastors by John Kitchen was very helpful when I preached through the pastorals recently.

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